PaddleAid

one man, one boat, one paddle and one goal!! to kayak the length of england for water aid to raise as much money as possible, some 380 miles along a route which has never been attemted before in a world record attempt. read everything here and view updated pictures for the training and the journey itself as well as the aftermath!! www.justgiving.com/paddleaid please please make a donation and be part of this with me www.justgiving.com/paddleaid

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Day 8 BAAAAAAA! can you see a theme?

Awaking nice and early to a cup of tea from Alan was a true blessing and allowed me to get away early and make a real good run to reach the Grand Union Canal. This would be the last canal that I had to navigate so was a big marker. Nearly done and the prospect of a hot shower and bed at the end gave me new enthusiasm and helped numb the pain that my arms and fingers in particular were facing. As I continued along the beautifully scenic Oxford canal another random animal encounter took place. As I paddled towards a barge which looked moored on the opposite side to the towpath an elderly lady called out, "young man can you help please?" well I was intrigued and of course willing to offer assistance. As I rounded the back of the barge a sheep was entangled in the canal side brambles in the water. Apparently the sheep had fallen off the bank into the canal and become tightly tangled and unable to move. A little aprehensive I paddled close to the sheep and slowly reached out to pat its head. Amazingly the sheep remained extremely calm and didnt try anything funny. I slowly started removing the brambles from around its neck but it was hard going and slow whilst maintaining balance and trying not to scare the sheep. Eventually the barge residents chirped up "would you like some scissors?" well yes that would be kind of helpful thankyou, 20 seconds later the sheep was free and wading around the corner to safety. Well I say safety knowing sheep it would probably end up caught the same 5 meters down!! Oh well I had done my good deed and felt pleased with myself. As I paddled for Braunston and the start of the Grand Union I finally sited my first sign for London which sent shivers down my spine and a sense of achievement filled me. Today had been a good day so far and long may it continue.
I was under no illusions though if I really pushed it today I could get around my last two tunnels the Braunston and the Blissworth. These two bigger than the already conquered Harecastle. After a spot of lunch in Braunston I was ready to tackle the tunnel. As you will already know I am not allowed in the tunnels and need to trolley up and navigate over them. So on came the wheels and up I climbed above the tunnel. This time it was a straight forward path over the tunnel according to the map so no chances of getting lost. Although the climb was steep the path was nice and the views made it worth while, I was really enjoying the break from the strain on my arms and pushed forward over the rolling hills towards the other end of the tunnel with ease.

As with everything though when you get complacent life throws you a little challenge to keep you on your toes!! What started out as a nice path soon turned into a jungle from hell with sweltering heat from the sun and towering nettles the going got real tough. The trolley wheels became jammed with weeds and fell on five occasions leaving me to wade through a sea of nettles in shorts and sandals to pick up the kayak and place it back upright as I dragged with all my remaining energy to get free from the undergrowth. This was certainly a challenge I could live without. As I got hotter and frustrated the path finally widened again and the ordeal was over the tunnel had come close to defeating me but I conquered it and as one last effort to get my own back on Braunston and its tunnel I deposited a little present in the field hehe

With the Braunston tunnel down and conquered I set my sights on the Blisworth tunnel and the little village Stoke Bruene on the otherside where I had agreed to meet my dad. Ready for a weekend paddle together. As I paddled the last stretch I met a lovely couple in a canalside bar who were keen to hear about what I was doing and even donated towards the cause as I sat and chatted another barge I had been kayaking and chatting with from Braunston pulled up and offered to buy me a beer ( the people not the barge that is I try not to talk to barges but you know how sometimes it just happens.) As I left the bar and the couples I was told only 2 miles to Blisworth and the next tunnel so I set off at a good pace ready to get there early so could rest before seeing my dad. As I maintained the pace I thought I was covering some distance surely I should be there? Asking a gent canalside he assured me it was still 2 miles to go. Couple of miles later another walker confirmed it was still 2 mile sto go to Blisworth, eventually after more like 9miles I made it to the tunnel entrance. SO much for only two miles! My dad was now already waiting on the otherside of the tunnel and after the Braunston fiasco a local couple walking their dog said the easiest way to Stoke Bruene was by road. So off I trotted for 2and half miles along the lanes with kayak in tow. Some funny looks that night! And into the village to meet my parents. We had already decided to camp here for the night and after meeting alovely lady and her friends in the bar my camp for the night was to be her lawn, thanks to everyone in the bar that night for being so friendly, especially Michelle for letting us camp in her front garden. Stoke Bruene looked like a lovely village an dthe lawn was extremely comfortable. Unfortunately the nights sleep was ruined by the druken walk home of some local lads who decided to talk about fighting very loudly for an hour at 2am. Although they did talk and shout a lot no punches were thrown, seriously you would have save time an dlet the village sleep by having the fight! it would have been over in seconds and everyone could carry on as normal! oh well suppose you get stupid drunks everywhere!

2 Comments:

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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